FCT Councils’ Chairmen- Elect To Wait One More Year As Minister Extends Tenure Of Incumbents

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello, has extended by one year the tenures of Council Chairmen of the FCT, saying the decision was based on court injunction.

The tenures of the six Area Council Chairmen and Councillors, who were inaugurated on May 20, 2019 are supposed to end today (Thursday) 19 May, 2022.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had, in view of the expiration of the tenure of the elected chairmen and councillors, conducted elections in the six area councils where chairmen-elect and councils-elect emerged.

Their inauguration was scheduled for Friday (tomorrow) 20 May, 2022.

But in a new twist on Thursday, less than 24 hours to the inauguration, the minister issued a statement of suspension saying it was based on court decision with regards to the new electoral act.

In a statement signed by the minister, he said, “As you are all aware, in March of 2019, we held the Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory, whereby six council chairmen and councillors were elected after a very competitive and rigorous process.

“These six Council Chairmen of the FCT were then inaugurated on May 20, 2019, under the 2010 Electoral Act. Based on that Act, the tenure of the Chairmen would end today and the new Chairmen, based on the elections held in February this year, would be sworn in on May 20, 2022.

“But a few days ago, we received communication of a judgment by a court in the FCT directing us to suspend the inauguration of the new Chairmen, based on the fact that the current Chairmen’s tenure would end today, May 19, 2022.

“According to the judgment, based on the recently signed Electoral Act of 2022, which stipulates that the tenure of office of the Chairmen of the Area Councils in the FCT would now be four years instead of three years, the existing Chairmen whose tenure was meant to expire or end today, have another one year to continue, based on the new law.

“So, as a law-abiding government, the FCT Administration has no option but to suspend the planned inauguration of the six Area Council Chairmen of the Federal Capital Territory who were duly elected some weeks ago as a result of this injunction of the court.”

He added that, “As an administration that is very conscious of the need to abide by the rule of law, even though we are not satisfied with the judgment of the court, we have no option but to comply.

“While complying, we are also making efforts to vacate the judgment and if the need arises, to appeal the judgment, so that the correct position of the law will be determined by the legal processes.”

Bello however added that, “In the interim, therefore, we are very conscious of the fact that the stand of the court has raised a lot of concerns within certain sections of the FCT residents. I wish to appeal to everyone to be calm, to be law-abiding, and await the outcome of the legal processes.

“FCT is a creation of the law. The FCT has always been known to be a place of unity, peace, and good governance and populated by law-abiding residents. Please let us continue the way we are and await the court processes. At the end of the court processes, the clear direction of what needs to be done would be clearly stated, and then as an administration, we will do the needful.”

Efforts to reach the spokesman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Debo Ologunagba, whose party produced three Council Chairmen and about 45 councillorship seats out of 57 were unsuccessful as he did not respond to text message sent to his phone and calls made to his line returned unanswered.

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